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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Spiced Almond

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Spiced AlmondI’ve reviewed a couple of the new Ghirardelli panned chocolate items, but up until now they’ve been pretty standard items. I was intrigued enough with the description of the new Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Spiced Almond to pick them up.

The perfect snack to satisfy your craving for crunchy nuts and smooth chocolate ... with a little spice.

I liked the package. It’s very easy to understand, the images on the front and back are appealing, clear and not too fussy. But mostly I appreciated that the nutrition label and ingredients are easy to read. The ingredients list the allergens in bold, as well as noting them at the end of the list and it was all in a typeface that was large enough for me to read without glasses.

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Spiced Almond

The ingredients are pretty clean with no artificial flavors or colors. They even helpfully list out what the spices are: cinnamon, allspice and cayenne. Instead of just mixing the spices into the chocolate to create something slightly gritty, Ghirirdelli instead made a spiced toffee glaze for the almonds before panning them in chocolate.

These remind me of the Lindt Holiday Almonds that come out seasonally, but are also coated with powdered sugar.

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Spiced Almond

The almonds are big and glossy. They don’t smell of spice, just a light sweet dairy note. They have a great crunch if you bite them. The glaze is crispy and the almond are tougher and have a substantial crunch. The chocolate is soft and combines readily with the elements. It’s all a bit sweet, even with the neutral almonds to balance it out. The glaze has a generous touch of the spices, with quite a bit of cayenne that builds up slowly until there’s a light burn after about five or six.

I didn’t care for the how sweet they were, maybe I just wanted a smidge of salt in them or a darker milk chocolate. But they are less sweet than the Lindt sister confection, so I’ll take that as progress. I have to say that if this trend of mixing the textures of a glazed nut with chocolate takes off, there are a lot of variations that could be quite delectable. The best that I’d tried to date would be the Sconza 70% Toffee Almonds.

Ghirardelli is owned by Lindt & Sprungli. They don’t have a lot on their website about the sourcing of their cacao except for a statement that they’re in compliance with the California transparency act and then point you to the Lindt policies. Now that Lindt owns Russell Stover, they’re the third largest chocolate company in the United States, and will probably have a lot more clout when it comes to insisting on transparency and certification within their supply chain for all ingredients.

Related Candies

  1. Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Cashew
  2. Ovation Mint Filled & Pumpkin Spice Oranges
  3. Ritter Sport Winter Edition Caramelised Almonds
  4. M&Ms Pumpkin Spice
  5. Eclat Chocolate Caramelized Hazelnuts 65%
  6. Toblerone Crunchy Salted Almond
  7. Trader Joe’s Almondictive Bits
  8. Ghirardelli Holiday Squares
  9. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds


Name: Milk Chocolate Spiced Almond
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ghiradelli
Place Purchased: Target (Eagle Rock)
Price: $4.00
Size: 5.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 149
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Ghirardelli, Brittle, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Nuts, 8-Tasty, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:15 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewGhirardelliBrittleChocolateCinnamonNuts8-TastyUnited StatesTargetComments (0)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PUR Sugarless Gum - Coolmint & Cinnamon

Pur Sugarless Gum - Cinnamon & CoolmintI’m a bit of a picky chewer, when it comes to gum. Part of it may be that I’m just such a minority in my tastes that it’s not profitable to make the kind of gum I might like.

I mostly chew gum made with sugar, not because I necessarily want sugar in my gum, but because it’s so hard to find sugar free gum that’s not made with artificial sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium (AceK) and saccharine. It’s very rare to find a gum like the PUR line that is sugarless but also made only with xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol. Xylitol has been around for years and is often used in sugar free mints and gums, though usually in combination with artificial sweeteners. It has a light ans sweet note to it, but like most sugar alcohols, it also has an odd cooling effect on the tongue (which is usually a desirable feature for mints).

The PUR Gum is is gluten free, nut free, dairy free, vegan and free of GMO ingredients. I’ve tried the other flavors that were introduced when the gum line launched about three years ago:  Peppermint, Spearmint and Pomegranate Mint. I liked them quite a bit, though they’re not easy to find.

Coolmint Pur Gum

The pieces are simple chiclets, rounded rectangular pieces, a little rustic and uneven, measuring about 3/4 of an inch long and about 1/3 of an inch wide. A serving, for me, is two pieces. (With actual Chiclets it’s usually 3 pieces at a time.)

The chew is very soft at first, with a very cool note on top and a strong sweetness before the other flavors kick in. The sweetness is not the same as sugar, it’s less round, cool on the tongue and rather slippery.

The flavor is very odd. At first it was a bit on the wintergreen side, which some people find medicinal ... or repulsive. There are other notes to it, a little hint of eucalyptus and then another more balsam note, it reminded me of mastic, which is a resin that’s also used a chewing gum in the Mediterranean. (If you’ve never had mastic, it’s also similar in its flavor profile to tea tree oil, which is not meant to be eaten but is found in many natural personal care products.)

The wintergreen notes dissolve away and all that seemed to be left was that sort of resin note with a hint of something like jasmine tea. It’s pleasant, at least for me and did definitely freshen my mouth after eating some curry for lunch.

Cinnamon Pur Gum

Cinnamon is predictable and comforting. It’s woodsy and a little on the clove side of spicy, but has a wonderful warming hotness to it. The intense and rounded flavors dissipate pretty quickly, but the lingering flavor is just sweet and with the lightest tough of cinnamon.

There’s no weird bitter note, either, which I think is often caused by artificial colors. There are no colors here, so it’s all about the gum flavor. The xylitol sweetness lasts for a while, I’d say the pieces are satisfying for about 15 minutes. After I tossed the gum, I still had that lingering warmth of the cinnamon for at least a half an hour. It definitely cut through coffee breath.

I’d probably still stick with the Peppermint (from the original review) for a gum to keep in my desk, but for travel, I think I would go with the Coolmint because I really felt like chewing the pieces longer than the other flavors. It’s a little expensive and the packaging takes up a lot of space for such a small amount of gum. (I might like it if the blister pack was scored so I could just tear off a few of them to keep them in my little case that I take on airplanes.)

The gum is not easy to find, and not cheap. I’ve seen it at natural food stores and grocers, such as Sprouts and Erewhon.

Related Candies

  1. Oak Leaf Refresh Triple Mint Chewing Gum
  2. Glee Sugar Free Gum
  3. Tree Hugger Bubble Gum
  4. Hollywood Chewing Gum
  5. PUR Gum: Xylitol Sweetened
  6. Wee Glee Gum
  7. Mentos Cinnamon
  8. Classic Gums: Black Jack, Clove, Beemans & Teaberry
  9. Canada Wintergreen


Name: PUR Gum: Coolmint & Cinnamon
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Frey
Place Purchased: samples from Pur Gum
Price: $1.75
Size: .44 ounces (9 pieces)
Calories per ounce: 101
Categories: Candy, Frey, Gum, 7-Worth It, Canada

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:04 pm     CandyReviewFreyCinnamonGumMints7-Worth ItCanadaComments (3)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dilly Dally Pickle Candy and Barrels of Yum

Barrels of Yum and Dilly Dally CandyThe dill pickle is a favorite flavor in the United States. It goes beyond the brined cucumber and has made its way into potato chips, vodka, peanuts, and even toothpaste. It’s a small wonder we haven’t seen more pickled candies.

The folks at Barrels of Yum have created a unique array of hard candies shaped like barrels, but I thought I’d start with their Dilly Dally Candy since it’s their unique offering.

Their barrel shaped dill pickle pieces bring the flavors of dill, vinegar, salt, garlic and tarragon to hard candy.

Dilly Dally Candy

They’re bright green, like that weird paste I get from the Indian restaurant that I can’t eat because it’s so green. I’m not a pickle adverse person, as a kid I was a huge fan both of the store bought versions and the kind my grandmother made with the gherkins she grew in her own yard.

The first flavor is sweetness, like a sweet pickle, which I actually don’t care for. But after there’s a strong and pleasant herbal dill note along with a weird sort of garlic flavor. The tartness that emulates vinegar comes in slowly. Overall, it’s a good likeness of a pickle in dissolvable form. I would have liked a little less sweet, which I understand is hard to do with candy, but perhaps a dash of salt. Mostly, it lacks the texture, that crunch, the coldness from the fridge that are elements I enjoy in my pickle. My mouth never quite watered during the experience like it does with some good, refrigerator-cold, fresh pickles.

As a novelty, especially if you’re theming a party, these are definitely unique, but not something I’d eat every day.

Barrels of Yum Classic CollectionThe other more sedate collection from Barrels of Yum is their Classic Collection of old fashioned gourmet candy creations.

It really is time that hard candy got some upgrades, the new variety was created with David Klein, the fellow of brought us the idea of really great tasting jelly beans with the Jelly Belly.

The variety contains eight different flavors, though oddly enough, not the classic barrel candy root beer. They include: blueberry crumble, peach cobbler, apple pie, chai tea, sour watermelon, hot cinnamon, orange cream, and granny smith green apple.

They’re kosher and made in the USA, unlike a lot of hard candies these days. They’re for sale on Amazon, but at $5.99 they’re a little steep. They’re made with a combination of natural and artificial flavors. The colors are bright, though it’s a little hard to tell some of the apart at first glance, as the peach and orange are similar as are the two browns.

Barrels of Yum

Apple Pie is the light brown color. It’s very apple, with a lot of tartness to it and a good flavor balance that has some cinnamon and something like graham or that emulates crust very well. The apple flavor is good enough that it almost taste like they didn’t peel the apples.

Granny Smith Green Apple is just a little darker in color than the Dilly Dally, not that they’re included in the same package. It starts out rather sedate but then develops. It’s not Jolly Rancher apple, this is a lot more full bodied with more of the apple juice flavors than that artificial note that many American apple candies have. If you gave this to me without saying where it came from, I would guess it was Japanese, as they have a much better approximation of true apple flavor in candy than we do.

Blueberry Crumble is over-blued ... it made my tongue blue and as an adult, it’s not really a feeling I care for. The flavor is good, a well rounded sweetness with a light tart bite of boiled berries with a sort of vanilla top note. It didn’t quite differentiate itself as actual blueberry, more of a generic berry flavor.

Orange Cream is the lightest orange didn’t really make any sense to me conceptually but it was well executed. Two of my favorite qualities of citrus are the acidic bite and the zesty balsamic note. Neither of those show up in this piece, as it’s all about the soft orange flavor without the zing of the peel or the juice. So what’s left? It’s like a creamsicle, sweet and mild with a very good creamy mouthfeel, though there’s absolutely no dairy in it.

Peach Cobbler is a medium orange color and rather weak. It was tangy but didn’t have that dough element like the crumble did. It was just odd, not peachy. I thought this was a miss.

Sour Watermelon was hot pink and definitely reminded me of Jolly Rancher. The flavor was very sweet at first, like a ripe but uninteresting watermelon, but then the sour pops up as you get further in. It’s not puckery, but has a believable quality to it.

Chai Tea is warm with immediate cinnamon notes. The other spices are quite mild and comforting, perhaps a little nutmeg and ginger. It’s not as strong as I could have liked, but the flavor is continuous instead of getting weak as the candy dissolves.

Hot Cinnamon was saved for last, in case it burned me out. It starts out with a good mix of the powdery woody flavor but then goes right into the searing heat of the cinnamon oil. It reminded me of Atomic Fireballs, except there’s no layering to grant relief after a few minutes. I had a little metallic hit from the artificial colors, I would have preferred colorings on these that didn’t interfere with the intense flavors.

Overall, the barrels fill a niche for interesting flavors in hard candy. I found the pieces just slightly large for my preference. Though the barrel shape is fun, I do prefer a disk as I think that fits better in the mouth. This particular flavor assortment didn’t fit my tastes perfectly, only about half are flavors I’d pick out of the mix. I am looking forward to what they do with Root Beer, as I would love to find a really intense, spicy root beer hard candy.

Related Candies

  1. Raley’s Hand Crafted Rock Hard Candies
  2. Napoleon BonBon Cola
  3. Krauterbonbons from Lubeck Christmas Market
  4. Marmite Very Peculiar Milk Chocolate
  5. Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight
  6. Brach’s Soda Poppers
  7. Atomic Fireballs
  8. Malaysian Hard Candies


Name: Dilly Dally Pickle Candy
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Barrels of Yum
Place Purchased: samples from Barrels of Yum
Price: $5.99 retail
Size: 8.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Kosher, 6-Tempting, United States


Name: Classic Collection Hard Candy
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Barrels of Yum
Place Purchased: samples from Barrels of Yum
Price: $5.99
Size: 8.4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 113
Categories: Candy, Cinnamon, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Kosher, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:42 pm     CandyReviewCinnamonHard Candy & LollipopsKosher6-Tempting7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (4)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Necco Sweethearts Hot Hearts and Cool Hearts

Necco Sweethearts Hot HeartsNecco has taken some heat in the past few years regarding their changes to the flavor and recipe for their iconic Sweethearts Conversation Hearts.

The idea of creating individually flavored packages if the Sweethearts seems like a great way to sort this out. Necco released to single-flavor packages this year: Necco Sweethearts Hot Hearts and Necco Sweethearts Cool Hearts. They’re cinnamon and peppermint (respectively). They come in attractive mini gable boxes and for less than a dollar, I thought it was much more attractive, mature and sophisticated than the little boxes of the multi-flavor version.

Necco Sweethearts Hot Hearts & Cool Hearts

The boxes are adorable, though frustrating to re-close. There’s a tab on the back, but it’s glued down and has nothing to tuck back into after you open it. You can slide the whole flap into the folded top, but it’s a bit of a trick and not something that can be accomplished with one hand.

Though they are nothing more than paperboard boxes sealed with glue, the candies were fresh and crispy. (Not that I know exactly what a fresh Sweetheart actually is supposed to be like.)

Necco Sweethearts Hot Hearts

The cinnamon flavored Hot Hearts are truly hot. I found them quite spicy and a little more nuanced than a straight burn.

The pink hearts have flirty mottoes like: Kiss Me, Wow Me, Ooh La LA and Wink Wink.

The flavor is cinnamony, it has an immediate warmth to it, but there’s a note of clove and some of the other more woodsy flavors of ground cinnamon. The texture is smoother than an Altoid, but they that that same crispy texture that you can let dissolve or crunch.

I enjoyed them quite a bit, though eating a lot of them does lead to a lingering heat in the mouth.

Necco Sweethearts Cool Hearts

The peppermint Cool Hearst are white with light blue-green lettering, though some of mine were blank. It’s obvious why these are sold in single flavors, as they’re very strong and would contaminate the flavor of anything placed in contact.

The mottoes for the Cool Hearts are also themed for the mint flavor: Chill Out, Frosty, Shivers, Icy Blast, So Fresh. There are other more puzzling ones, like an asterisk (which may be an homage to the romantic novels of Kurt Vonnegut or the Walmart logo) and the possibly insulting versions that say Got Onions? and Have a Mint.

The smooth texture and Altoid intensity was pleasant. They’re were definitely minty enough to be called mints instead of candy, but the price is certainly very good for this sort of product versus something like Altoids or Breathsavers (though they’re made with sugar, no artificial sweeteners like some breath mints).

I would buy either of these again, the packaging was pleasing but most of all the candy inside was surprisingly good for a Necco Sweetheart product. I feel like Necco has stumbled in their previous seasonal and pop culture tie ins (see Sweethearts Fire & Ice for Twilight) but these can definitely be called a hit.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Organic Gingermints
  2. Necco Sweethearts Twilight Fire & Ice
  3. Necco Conversation Hearts (Sweethearts) 2010
  4. Canada Wintergreen
  5. Trader Joe’s English Soft Peppermints
  6. VerMints
  7. Pastiglie Leone


Name: Sweethearts Hot Hearts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.89
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Candy, Valentines, Necco, Cinnamon, Compressed Dextrose, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's


Name: Sweethearts Cool Hearts
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Necco
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $.89
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 121
Categories: Candy, Valentines, Necco, Compressed Dextrose, Mints, 7-Worth It, United States, Walgreen's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:45 pm     CandyReviewValentinesNeccoCinnamonCompressed DextroseMints7-Worth ItUnited StatesWalgreen'sComments (2)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Brach’s Christmas Nougats Mix

Brach's Christmas Nougats MixA few years back I reviewed one of the classic candies that Brach’s has been making for years, their Peppermint Holiday Nougat. The Brach’s style of nougat is made with egg whites, just like the European recipes have been for hundreds of years. This version is more of a chew, kind of a hybrid between a taffy and a fluffy honey-sweetened nougat from France, Italy or Spain.

The fun part about the Brach’s Christmas Nougats Mix is that they come in three flavors: Cinnamon, Peppermint & Wintergreen.

Enjoy Brach’s uniquely soft, handmade nougats mad with delicious peppermint, cinnamon and wintergreen flavors. Perfect for snacking or sharing with friends and family throughout the holiday season.

These kinds of nougats are assembled, truly, by hand. Large logs of nougat are colored and flavored, then stacked together to form the image inside which creates a much larger log. That is then placed on a machine that pulls it into a smaller cord and then cuts the pieces.

DSC_4563rb

I’ve reviewed the Peppermint version before, and find the same opinion to hold true today. It’s a soft chew, very smooth with a nice pop of peppermint. The nougat makes it a short chew, meaning it’s not gummy and dissolves pretty quickly without much grain. It has a bit of salt, which mellows out the bulk of the sugar.

Brach's Cinnamon Holiday Nougat

The Cinnamon version has a pink background. The cinnamon scent is quite strong and this chew was very soft. It’s a sizzling cinnamon, I was surprised at its strength, there was a bit of heat. It’s a unique sort of candy, so I appreciate that it’s attractive and well made.

Brach's Wintergreen Holiday Nougat

The Wintergreen version has a light green background. As much as I’m a fan of the flavor, I can’t say that this is the best use of it. Like the cinnamon, this is very strong. And like cinnamon, a lot of wintergreen at once can give a sort of warming “sports rub” sort of feeling. Wintergreen doesn’t go well with many other flavors, it’s not like this combines well with chocolate or wine, if you were snacking.

These make an attractive bowl of candy, though I think in the future I’d stick with either the Peppermint or the Cinnamon. Wintergreen is just to strange for a candy assortment for Christmas, but certainly something to keep in mind for that person on your list that does have a predilection for the stuff.

Note: the packaging on this predates the Ferrara and Farley’s & Sathers merger (the copyright said 2012) and Brach’s is planning on changing their packaging design and branding again next year. This bag was made in Mexico.

Related Candies

  1. Brach’s Cherry Cordial Nougats
  2. Eat with Your Eyes: Pinwheel Nougats
  3. Fard’s Persian Pistachio Nougat
  4. Canada Wintergreen
  5. Massam’s Nougat
  6. Brachs Bunny Basket Eggs


Name: Christmas Nougats Mix
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Ferrara Pan
Place Purchased: CVS (Park LaBrea)
Price: $2.49
Size: 9.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 116
Categories: Candy, Christmas, Brach's, Farley's & Sathers, Ferrara Pan, Cinnamon, Mints, Nougat, 6-Tempting, Mexico, Sav-On/CVS

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:15 pm     CandyReviewChristmasBrach'sFarley's & SathersFerrara PanCinnamonMintsNougat6-TemptingMexicoSav-On/CVSComments (3)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Red Bird Brand Puffs

DSC_3280rbSometime about a year ago I picked up some Root Beer Puffs, which were like buttermints but flavored like the soda. A few weeks later I got a note from a company called Red Bird Brand that makes candy puffs in a huge variety of flavors. It took me quite a while to find them, but I did pick up Soft Assorted Puffs at the 99 Cent Only Store that includes 15 different flavors. (Though perhaps not always in the same bag.)

The flavor variety is, well, extraordinary: Peppermint, Cherry, Lemon, Green Apple, Wintergreen, Strawberry, Orange, Grape, Peach, Blueberry, Butterscotch, Watermelon, Cream Penny, Cotton Candy, Passion Fruit. There’s a menu guide on the back that shows the key for the combination of colors and stripes. There are about 25 candies in the bag, but the flavors were not distributed evenly.

One of the differences between this style of Puffs and the traditional Buttermint of After Dinner Mint is the size. These are quite large, at about 1 inch across and all of them are individually wrapped. (No more candy dish with the stuck together.)

Red Bird Puffs

Cherry was bold and easy to spot. It’s a flavor that’s both heavily scented and with a light tartness to it. It was smooth and had a good melt, but overall, it’s not usually my favorite though at least this didn’t have a lot of red coloring in it.
Lemon smelled rather like lemonade drink mix. The flavor was a bit on the metallic side, but mostly reminded me of lemon meringue.
Green Apple is a strange flavor for this candy. It’s not intense enough to really stand out, so it may as well be lime.
Wintergreen is quite medicinal, with a wholesome Root Beer sort of flavor. Because it was green and not pink, like many wintergreen candies, I didn’t notice any extra aftertaste from the artificial colors. I would eat this one again. (But I only got one in the bag.)
Strawberry and cotton candy looked very similar, but I’m pretty sure this was Strawberry. It was light and fruity, but not floral enough. It was almost like a strawberry lemonade because of the little tangy note.
Grape was more intense than I expected with full on tartness but very little grape flavor. The softness of the whole thing was good, but the flavor was too artificial.
Peach was bland with a little note of peach fuzz or apricot. It was not that tempting overall.
Blueberry was what the whole bag might have smelled like. It’s quite fruity, a little floral and not really what I’d call a candy flavor, more like an air freshener.
Butterscotch is warm and sweet, a little on the maple side. I liked this one quite a lot.
Watermelon was pure nostalgia. It tasted like a Bonne Bell lipsmacker. It was one of the more intense flavors in the package and I both loved it and hated it. I’m not really that fond of watermelon candies, as I don’t eat watermelon for the flavor anyway. But this had that fresh flavor that balanced the sweetness and the tartness of the rind and a green flavor.
Cream Penny was a mystery. This one is all white with a dark red dot in the center. I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be. It was sweet, but had no other detectable flavor notes so I’m going to say that it’s vanilla.

The flavors not in my bag: Peppermint, Cotton Candy, Passion Fruit and Orange.

For the most part I didn’t like the fruity flavors. The others like butterscotch and wintergreen were more to my liking, even the unflavored Cream Penny were pleasant.

Soft Hot Cinnamon PuffsOne of the other items I picked up many months ago were the Red Bird Soft Hot Cinnamon Puffs. The bag holds only 4 ounces and was also $1.00, this time at Dollar Tree.

The puffs themselves are quite nice, I liked them more than the variety package. There’s a floral, sort of honey note to them. But they’re also quite cinnamony. I wouldn’t call them hot though, it was a nice heat but they never approached anything like the fire of an Atomic Fireball.

The cinnamon smell is strong, even when they’re in the package, so I had to keep them separated from other candies.

The package for the Assorted Puffs said it was Gluten Free, they’re also Kosher Pareve and appear to be vegan ingredients.

It was strange that I didn’t get the classic Peppermint in the Assorted mix, which is what Red Bird Brand is known for. Overall, the texture was good, they softened up nicely. The package mentions that they’re rather hard when they’re first made, but if you prefer a softer puff, to open the package and wait ... it was true. After a couple of months, mine reached the melt in your mouth texture that I was expecting.

Related Candies

  1. 10 Underrated Candies
  2. Katharine Beecher Party Mints
  3. Pennsylvania Dutch Candies - Root Beer Puffs
  4. Cedrinca Gran Mix
  5. King Leo Dark Chocolate Crunchy Patties
  6. Mint Cremes from the Makers of Jelly Belly
  7. Canada Wintergreen


Name: Soft Assorted Puffs
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Red Bird Brand
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only Store (Miracle Mile)
Price: $1.00
Size: 5.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: Candy, Hard Candy & Lollipops, 5-Pleasant, United States, 99 Cent Only Store


Name: Soft Hot Cinnamon Puffs
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Red Bird Brand
Place Purchased: Dollar Tree
Price: $1.00
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce: 106
Categories: Candy, Cinnamon, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Kosher, 6-Tempting, United States, Dollar Tree

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:13 pm     CandyReviewCinnamonHard Candy & LollipopsKosher5-Pleasant6-TemptingUnited States99 Cent Only StoreDollar TreeComments (4)

Friday, September 13, 2013

M&Ms Pumpkin Spice

M&Ms Pumpkin SpiceAs usual, the candy shelves are stacking up with Halloween favorites and a few new novelty items.

The Pumpkin Spice M&Ms are a Target exclusive this year (just as the Candy Corn M&Ms were also exclusive their first year at WalMart). The package is cute and was easy to spot at the store. It features the orange M&M character looking like a pumpkin.

The flavor is not pumpkin pie itself, but the spices used to turn pumpkin custard into a seasonal dessert. Traditional pumpkin spices are a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and/or mace. The ingredients for these M&Ms are vague, just listing “artificial and natural flavorings” at the end of the list.

M&Ms Pumpkin Spice

The pieces are, for the most part, the mega size. They’re larger than a standard M&M and come in three colors in the package: dark brown, orange and green.

M&Ms Pumpkin Spice

The flavor is overwhelmingly cinnamon. Though they smell like chocolate, they taste like chocolate milk sipped in a room with too many Christmas-scented candles. The candy shell is crispy and the milk chocolate center is, well, a bit fudgy and grainy. I think I prefer the size of the regular M&Ms, since the chocolate is merely passable. In this format the amount of sugar easily overwhelms the chocolate.

I didn’t actually notice that much of a difference from the previous limited edition Cinnamon M&Ms from two years ago. Maybe a little more note of clove. I would have preferred more of the nutmeg and ginger spices than the Tic Tac notes of cinnamon candies.

Pumpkin Spice seems to be a pretty hot flavor these days (though the Hershey’s Kisses version has been around since 2008), a lot of seasonal candies are being released (see list below of previous reviews). If you like Spiced Chai or cinnamon in general, it’s a great time to pick up this twist on old candy favorites. If not, wait a few months and the Candy Cane and Egg Nog versions will emerge.

Finally, with all the crazy flavors of M&Ms that have come out over the years, I’m a loss to why they’d go with something like peanut butter and jelly before coffee.

Related Candies

  1. See’s Holiday Pie Truffles
  2. M&Ms White Chocolate Peppermint
  3. Halloween Candy Spotting 2012
  4. M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corn
  5. Pumpkin Pie Gourmet Candy Corn
  6. Limited Edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms
  7. See’s Pumpkin Spice & Root Beer Lollypops
  8. Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses


Name: M&Ms Pumpkin Spice
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: Target (West Hollywood)
Price: $2.66 (on sale)
Size: 9.9 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Candy, Halloween, Mars, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Kosher, Limited Edition, 7-Worth It, United States, Target

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:50 pm     CandyReviewHalloweenMarsChocolateCinnamonKosherLimited EditionM&Ms7-Worth ItUnited StatesTargetComments (6)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

10 Underrated Candies

I often try to champion exceptional candies, ones that don’t have million dollar advertising budgets or huge fandoms on social networks. But there are other candies out there that have been plugging away for decades just being dependable. They’re not the best they could be, but they certainly don’t get the attention they deserve.

So here they are, not the only 10 candies that are underrated, but just 10 that I happen to love and find myself eating more often, now that I’ve circled around and tried a few thousand other candies in the past eight years.

Atkinson Chick-o-Stick

Chick-O-Sticks (Atkinson’s)

Description: Orange crunchy layers of peanut butter crisp rolled in coconut.

What’s to like about it?

Crispy peanut butter layers. You get right to it, no busting your way through some crazy overly-sweet mockolate. It’s just about the peanuts, it’s completely crispy, a little salty and totally nutty. The best format are the individually wrapped minis shown, they make far less mess than the long bar format.

They’re vegan and gluten free.

Hesitations?

Well, there’s coconut on the outside. I’m not sure why, but it’s there and it’s always been there. There’s not a lot and it really doesn’t contribute much to the flavor but does give a little chew to the texture. What would make me even happier is if they got rid of the artificial colors in it, which I could swear give them a slight bitter aftertaste that I don’t get from the equally lovely Atkinson’s Peanut Bars.

What makes it underrated?

The packaging is lackluster and they can be hard to find, especially in the Northeast.

Goldenberg's Peanut Chews

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Just Born)

Description: a molasses chew studded with peanuts covered in dark mockolate.

What’s to like about it?

Molasses and peanuts. That’s it. It’s dark and mysterious, only slightly sweet, sometimes a little bitter. It’s chewy and crunchy and with a lot of nuts, it’s very satisfying and filling. They come in cute little bars, so you can just eat one or two and save the rest for later or share. They’re vegan!

Hesitations?

The mockolate coating is disappointing. It’s usually a bit toasty flavored but waxy so it lacks a creamy smooth quality that might really tip this over into being an incredible candy.

What makes it underrated?

The name and packaging marks it as an old-time, regional candy bar. Just Born, who bought out Goldenberg’s, renamed the candy, then brought back the classic name & design, further confusing people. The molasses component is a hard sell in artificial times.

Ferrara Pan Root Beer Barrels

Root Beer Barrels (Various Brands)

What’s to like about it?

It tastes like root beer! I tastes more like root beer than most of the cheap and weak sodas on store shelves and it’s more portable. It’s a hard to find flavor that really shines in hard candy form.

Hesitations?

Some brands are better than others. Voids in the candy can be sharp and make small cuts or abrasions on the tongue or palate.

What makes it underrated?

It’s hard candy and hard candy is for old ladies.

Honees

Honees Honey Drops (DiNatura)

Description: little honey flavored hard candies filled with honey.

What’s to like about it?

They’re dead simple and satisfying, the honey center coats the throat and does actually soothe without medication.

Hesitations?

They can be expensive and can be messy, as many packages get sticky because of the delicate filling in the pieces.

What makes it underrated?

They’re stuck in the cough drop aisle, not with the rest of the candy. Sure, they’re soothing, but they’re also comforting, and who doesn’t want to be comforted regularly?

Compartes Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chcoolate

Chocolate Covered Orange Zest (your local chocolate shop)

Description: candied orange peel is dipped in dark chocolate

What’s to like about it?

It’s extremely simple with a good combination of textures and flavors. There’s the bitterness of the orange oils and dark chocolate, the chewy texture of the peel and the creamy melt of the chocolate.

Hesitations?

They’re a small treat, and the satisfaction is usually due to good quality peels done well (not to soft and sticky, not leathery tough) and appropriate amounts of chocolate. They’re often expensive, which is odd because it’s basically chocolate covered garbage, but they do require a bit of manual labor to make.

What makes it underrated?

Probably the fact that some places sell bad versions or put awful chocolate on them. They’re also not for everyone, citrus is just not everyone’s thing.

Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales (Just Born)

Description: rod shaped hot cinnamon jelly beans.

What’s to like about it?

They’re cinammony, soft and chewy. They’re not too hot, so you can eat a lot of them, unlike some other super sizzling cinnamon candies.

Hesitations?

The red food coloring is a bit overwhelming and sometimes I get a package that tastes like cherry.

What makes it underrated?

They’re just jelly beans. There’s only one flavor in the box.

Butter Mints

Buttermints (Richardson)

Description: buttery mint puffs

What’s to like about it?

They’re like sweet, minty air. They’re soft and melt in your mouth. They’re lightly flavored like peppermint, the opposite of the blast of flavor from an Altoid.

Hesitations?

They’re hard to find and can get stale quickly or take on flavors from other foods around them. If they’re sitting out in a bowl, they’re going to be disappointing.

What makes it underrated?

They’re marketed as an after dinner mint, not a treat in their own right.

Old Dominion Butter Toffee Peanuts

Toffee Peanuts (Various brands - shown is Old Dominion also Adams-Brooks Candies)

Description: crunchy caramelized sugar covering peanuts

What’s to like about it?

They’re often found at truck stops and in vending machines. They’re a great combination of satisfying peanut protein and sweet, buttery toffee. Though they’re similar to French Burnt Peanuts, they’re not as tough to crunch and often have a more authentic peanut and browned butter flavor to them.

Hesitations?

They can be sticky and sometimes if the bag has been shaken up too much, all the toffee comes off the nuts. (But then it’s just perfect as a topping for ice cream.)

What makes it underrated?

As you may have already noticed a theme here, underrated candies are usually in small pieces, not bar form. It’s easy to dismiss a toffee coated peanut because there are other, more trendy candies out there. But they’ve been making these for hundreds of years for a reason.

Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint Leaves (Generic)

Description: spearmint flavored jellies shaped like a mint leaf.

What’s to like about it?

There are so few spearmint candies in the United States these days, and these endure for a reason. They’re sweet but with a really powerful spearmint note to them that balances it out. The sugar crust balances the sticky jelly of the center. They’re usually vegan as there’s no gelatin used in gumdrops.

Hesitations?

They can get stale quickly, or worse, get sticky and damp. They’re not easy to combine with other candies in a trail mix. I feel like an old lady when I pick them out in the store.

Sugar Babies

Sugar Babies (Tootsie)

Description: caramel bits covered in a grainy sugar shell.

What’s to like about it?

If you’ve ever thought, “why don’t they make caramel jelly beans”, this is the answer. Why make a flavored item when you can give the same treatment to the real thing.

Hesitations?

When the get stale, they’re pretty hard. They don’t do well in trail mix with things like dried fruit because the moisture will make them even grainier or sticky.

What makes it underrated?

I think folks stop eating them when they grow up, and never go back.

So that’s my list. What do you think is undervalued or poorly marketed?

Related Candies

  1. Candy Tease: Bar None, Reed’s and Regal Crown Sours
  2. Flix Candy Flix Mix
  3. Candy Tease: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2011 Part 1
  4. Candy Tease: Nostalgia in 2011
  5. The 110 Essential Candies for Candivores

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:20 pm     CandyBrittleCaramelChewsChocolateCinnamonJelly CandyMintsMockolatePeanutsToffeeHighlightFun StuffComments (14)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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COUNTDOWN

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-20 days

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Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Godiva Chef Inspirations

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

 

 

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